I know that some people may think that this is evil or that I was being guided by demonic forces. I will ask you to set that thought aside for a moment, and simply consider what I have to say. If you read this all the way through, you may form a different opinion.
Taking off masks by putting them on: A journey into self-discovery via mask work
By K.T Klay
Within each of us is a side that we hide from others and may even be hiding from ourselves. This is something I have understood to be true, but recently experienced it first hand in a powerful and life-waking journey of self-discovery. This journey came in the form of the study, creation of, and then presenting of masks in my college Improv class.
In the spring of 2016, I enrolled in the “Acting Improvisation” class at my local junior college. Most people think of stand-up comics when they think of “Improv.” While comedy is often the result of these acting sessions, the main point is to teach the students how to react to odd “unscripted” situations in acting. Konstantin Stanislavski is considered to be the father of modern acting. He defined acting as, “living truthfully in imaginary circumstances.” Improv is part of that. Part of the class includes the study of Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) and Commedia dell’arte which is a improv acting style that involves the use of masks and certain “stock” character styles that go along with those masks. In preparation for the “mask” work, we are given an assignment to create our own masks. I want to note that while this is actually the second time I’ve taken the class, it is the first time I have been able to complete the “mask” project. This is where the real journey of discovery…and the point of this paper…begin.
When I first too the class, we spent an extended time studying masks, how they are created, the origins, how they are (or were) used in different cultures, and how they are used today. One of the common themes I heard from mask-makers of old and the modern creators of masks, is that the masks “came to them.” Now to be clear, there was not a knock on the door and then a mask standing there saying “Hello, I’m your mask.” Nor was there a phone call or text to that effect. What they said was that they cleared their minds and the masks would “come to them” in their cleared mind. Others said that the masks came in dreams. Still others said that they sat down with materials, cleared their minds and began creating. I took all this to heart as I looked, studied, and then prepared to create my mask. In the end, the mask …or masks…showed themselves to me and guided me.
“How could you be guided and called by an inanimate object? This is crazy…wrong…evil…” If you remember my opening statement, “Within each of us is a side that we hide from others and may even be hiding from ourselves,” you will understand (as I now do) that this mask came from inside me. It came from my life, experience, hurts, fears, and desires. As I blanked my mind, those items bubbled up so I could release them and (literally) face them.
What I saw when I blanked my mind, was a face with a mask. The mask was a half-face mask, much like the one you see in pictures for the musical, “The Phantom of The Opera.” The face under the mask was a twisted, contorted, monstrous, terrifying raw mess. I knew how I wanted to make it and what I wanted it to look like. I figured out the mechanics of suspending the “pretty” half-face over the “monster” that was under it. I researched to find out what materials I needed and what would work best. I then began my work.
Creation of masks, prosthetics, costumes and such are not really new to me. From the time I was young, I wanted to be in the movies. I studied special effects, costumes, and make up effects. I worked with them on an amateur level for a long time. Often, I won costume contests with wholly original creations and work. For a while, I even was one of those guys who went to the Star Trek conventions in costume, again, often receiving special recognition for what I was wearing. It was always a treat to have people come and want to take a picture with me, and I think I enjoyed that more than the contests that I won. Even with all that experience under my belt, the task I was beginning was like none that I had experienced.
One of the requirements for the project was that I was not to look at myself with the mask on until my appointed time in class. This was not easy, since the “under-mask” was created using the same casting material that is used in making casts for broken limbs. The under mask was molded directly on my face. Having studied Hollywood style masks in the past, I knew that I needed to have my face “greases” or the mask would become a more permanent cover. Even after generously greasing my facial hair with petroleum jelly, I still ended up with hair in the plaster. I guess I can genuinely say that there is more of me in this than just time, effort and creativity. When it came off, the monster was all I wanted and more. In the plaster, I saw muscle, and sinew, and bone, and blood, and hanging, rotten flesh; I painted it according to what I saw as I looked at it. I saw that it needed teeth. What perfect, monstrous teeth I found what I tore apart a pinecone. The teeth were painted white….but needed more so they got a layer of blood, and chunks of flesh form victims it had attacked and torn apart,; devouring their very being. That being done to my satisfaction, I moved to the “pretty face.”
The pretty mask was easy to create because it did not need to be on my face. Since the monster that would be the majority of it was fitted to my face, and since it would be suspended from that under mask, I was not concerned with fit. I took a store-bought mask, covered up the eye hole that would be on the side that would remain, and began to make it pretty. White, porcelain skin, a rosy, demure smile, bright, shiny eye, eyebrows made of feathers, and colorful hair made of the same colorful feathers. Looking at it, I fell in love. It was beautiful…but still was missing something; a small teardrop on the side that would be cut away so the ugly could peer through. This is where the masks really took over.
I prepared the drill, pegs, screws, and glue that would support the pretty mask when I suspended it over the ugly. I grabbed my precision cutting blade, and prepared to make the cut…..but I couldn’t. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to destroy the pretty mask. A mixture of emotion swept through me. On one hand, I needed to destroy the one to create the other. On the other hand….I had to destroy the beauty so the ugly could show….I couldn’t do it. I knew, however, that the masks belonged together; beauty over the monster. A thought I would have a year to contemplate.
As it turns out, I was not able to present my mask in 2016. I had been delayed in creating it because of finances. By the time I was able to bring it to class, it was too late to present it; I was heartbroken. The masks went up on my wall and then into a sealed box in storage. One year later, they came out as I returned to class to present them. I almost was not able to make my presentation as I had trouble getting to storage and retrieving them, but all things worked out.
In watching people with masks, I have seen an interesting truth: masks allow certain anonymity, and people often do terrible things while wearing masks. They also become things that they are not (or you wouldn’t expect) them to be. I too have experienced this in the past with costumes. When someone puts on a soldier’s uniform, they become a soldier…even if they are not. I’ve seen mild-mannered people slip into “alien” clothes and prosthetics and become loud, aggressive Klingon Warriors. Once, I put on a costume that was a hooded purple robe with a black mesh shroud for my face (think of a Star Wars Jawa but purple instead of brown) and found I could not speak. How many films have we seen where masked and/or robed figures commit atrocities. How many people do terrible things on Halloween (in costume) that they wouldn’t do normally? Watching people in 2017, and now in 2017, I saw some of the same.
There is a difference in the behavior of one who ‘allows” things to come out when they are “masked” and those who are closed and think it’s stupid. There is also a difference in those who throw a project together because it’s required and those who really pour themselves into the process. In this mask project, you are not allowed to see yourself in the mask until you stand before the class. In this process, the student sits, puts the mask on, and then closes their eyes. A mirror is placed before them and they are told to open their eyes. The result shows a lot about the person, and what went into the project.
Some people put on their masks, open their eyes, and are the same person wearing a mask. You can feel that (for whatever reason) they are self-conscious and don’t want to really let anything flow. Self-discovery is scary and is not for everyone. I can respect that. Other people put their masks on and there is a total transformation. Some people put on the mask and they are bubbly, funny, exciting, and energetic; they may or may not be that way normally. Other people put on masks and become something totally dark, strange, and scary. One classmate who was normally funny and energetic put on a mask and could not speak….could barely move. Others have turned into strange alien or animalistic creatures that grunt or move in strange ways. What I find interesting is what happens when the masks come off.
Within each of us is a side that we hide from others and may even be hiding from ourselves. When we allow it to, putting on a mask allows part of that which is within us to come out. Sometimes what comes out is scary, sometimes it is strange, sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it is funny…but it is always powerful when it is real. It doesn’t matter what the experience brings out, when someone has been open (even a little) to what may or may not happen, they are changed when the mask comes off. When the created mask goes on, the “fake” masks….the masks we wear every day to hide from ourselves and others come off….we are changed. Sometimes people walk away happy, and feel freer than ever. Other times they got off sobbing with what they have experienced and released. There is an unknown future when you are open to the experience. This unknown can cause excitement or fear, and it was the latter I was feeling as I sat looking down at my masks.
In my left hand I held the pretty mask and the monster was held in my right. As I waited, I gazed down at the pretty face and noticed the sadness. I looked at the monster…and was fearful. What would happen? The mask terrified me. What was the sadness? What was this beast?
“Who’s next?” the professor asked.
“I will go.” The words came out of my mouth as if someone else had spoken through me. I took a moment to talk about my masks and the process of creating them. I explained that they were one mask even though they were two and explained why. The time had come. A year after the assignment was due, I was there to turn it in; I was there to find out what these were and why they had come to me. Terrified of what may happen, I sat in the chair, and donned the monster, and then the outer pretty face, and closed my eyes. “Deep breaths….deep breaths” I opened my eyes and gazed at the pretty face…the Beautiful face in the mirror. The mirror was small so it was hard to see, but I began to take it all in.
I started to laugh! I was happy. I was excited. I was beautiful. I was loved. I was nervous. I was scared….but it was time to celebrate! My guests had arrived! I’d greet them and make them laugh and be the life of the party….scared they’d see the monster underneath. I’d get them so busy and happy that they’d forget about their problems…I’d forget about mine….and we could all forget about the monster underneath….or so I thought.
“Why are you sad?” The question caught me off guard. I deflected it, “Oh…these are happy tears! I’m just so happy to see you all!” The fear inside me grew….”Don’t let the monster out! Don’t let them see.”
“I sense you’re holding something back,” the professor’s voice rang out from behind me, “Come and sit down. I’d like you to show us what’s under your mask.”
“I don’t want you to see! I don’t want to let it out!” I screamed in my head, but sat down and began to remove the Beautiful mask. As I loosened the laces that held on “Beautiful”, I trembled. “What will happen? What is this monster? Rage? Anger? Hate? Violence? The true moment of self-discovery and growth had arrived; I was about to find out what or who this monster really was.
Under the mask, my body began to tremble. I was cold, and afraid. My body shook with fear, sobs, and terror, but it was not terror of the monster and what it would do; it was terror of what the others would do. I wanted to run, I wanted to hide, I wanted to tear down the walls that held me inside. I make fun with a U2 song, but it sums up what I felt. Even as I write this, I cry and sob….I needed a laugh. This “Monster” was not a monster; it was not some raging beast, the bloody, gore covered teeth were not covered with blood and gore of victims, but rather “victim.” The blood was my own. The rotting flesh was my own. I looked that way not because I WAS a monster but rather because I had been made that way because of their jealousy, hate, and lies of others. I had been turned into a monster by their beatings, lies, and abuse because they were jealous of my beauty. This was me! This was the real me I had been hiding from. The “Beautiful” mask was the “me that was” before the “monster” was created and the monster had created the “Beauty” mask to hide its pain (my pain) and try to get back what was wrongfully taken. I was paralyzed by my own shame, fear and pain.
“You can put the ‘Beautiful’ mask back on or you may remove the one you wear now,” the professor said. For what seemed like 20 minutes, I sat unable to move. Then he told me to close my eyes, breathe, and then remove my mask. I complied. But the paralysis continued, I had to get help getting back to sit.
Was this manufactured? Was it made up? Was it created by demonic entities that were influencing me? Was it just an outcry for attention? I say “No.” This cathartic moment was an opening for a release of truths that I have hidden, partially from others and partially from myself.
I am fond of saying, “My life’s an open book.” And indeed, if you ask, I will tell. I have experienced atrocities, injustices, and attacks because of people’s jealousy and their own issues and insecurities projected on me. I have been in places and experienced things that no person should ever have to experience or be. These have made me seem like a monster to some, and some people use that against me even now. I hide the monster because some cannot deal with it, even as I had trouble with it. Yet, all I want is to be loved, accepted, and be seen as Beautiful, again.
I hide the pain, shame, and hurts from everyone…even myself. This mask project has allowed me to take off the mask that I wear every day, the mask I hide behind, and see what I hide from myself and others. For me the masks were a catalyst that allowed me to remove a “band-aid” and gaze at wounds that need to heal. There were no demons, no angels, no monsters, no saints, just me, my mask, my pain.
The time has come to remove the mask and pursue healing and wholeness for my wounds. By putting on a mask, I was able to learn to take them off.
I just finished watching Superbowl 51. WOW what an amazing game. As I watched, I realized just how much this “American Football” game reflects our country and what’s going on here and through the world…but especially here.
First off, I want to start in the middle. I found it both humorous and appropriate that Lady Gaga (whom some say is crazy) is/was the half time entertainment was “51/50.” I joke, (hoping everyone knows that 51/50 is a term used for locking up a crazy person) but I’m serious at the same time. Honestly, I loved the show. I’m not a big Lady Gaga fan, but the effects blew me away (my creative juices are flowing) and the message of hope in her music and performance lifted and inspired me as well.
On a similar note, the commercials held a similar theme to Lady Gaga’s message and what I hear from those around me: “We are all equal (or should be.) Take care of those who are down and lift them up. Celebrate and embrace the differences, don’t use them to ‘divide and conquer.’” Most of the commercials and music sought healing, peace, and unity. This brings me to the game.
Who or what are the “Patriots?” (aside from being a football team) “Patriots” are people who fight for and support their country. They fight against anyone or anything that comes against their country and give their all to support, defend and protect it.
Who/what are “Falcons?” A Falcon is a sleek, predatory bird. Though elegant, strong, and beautiful, they seek only to devour for their own, personal (including their offspring) gain, or edification.
“The Patriots” VS “The Falcons.” Does this not reflect our country right now? “The working man” vs “Corporate Elite?” “The 99%” VS “The 1%?” For the first time ever, the game went into overtime. It started out with the “Falcons” swooping down and attacking and flying around and through the Patriots. They quickly gained a HUGE lead over the lowly Patriots. At the beginning of the 4th quarter, it looked hopeless! The Falcons had 28 points to the Patriots 3 points. It was over. No hope for Patriot fans…..or was it. (Does this not sound like America, today?)
Then, in an unexpected comeback, the Patriots pounded the Falcons. The score was soon tied. Now (again, for the first time in 51 years) the game goes into overtime. This is “sudden death,” the first team to score will win the game and take all the winnings. The Patriots pushed with all they had…it’s win or die…and they WON!
This is where we are headed. Yes, there are dark days ahead, and it will get darker, believe me. This game, I think, is (for lack of a better word) a prophetic word of encouragement for us all: as things get darker, keep up the good fight…stick together…..lift each other up….fight oppression…celebrate the differences and use them to strengthen the group. Like the Patriots of Superbowl 51, we will be victorious in the end. Fight the good fight, and never lose hope.
There once was a man who married a beautiful woman. On their wedding night, as they prepared to go to bed, he turned to her and smiled really big. “I love you,” he said, and then quickly punched her in the face. “I’m sorry,” he said to her,” it won’t happen again.” He then kicked her as she sat on the floor, clutching her nose; then he jumped into bed.
“I cannot believe this just happened!” The woman said to herself. “It has to have been a mistake; an accident.” She went and nursed her nose and went to bed.
The next morning, she awoke, and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Her new husband came in later. “Good morning, beautiful! I love you,” he said, then smiled at her and punched her hard in the face. “Whoops! I’m sorry! It won’t happen again.” As he walked away, the woman sat dumbfounded. “This has got to be some sort of sick joke. “
The scene repeated itself day after day. The woman confronted her husband repeatedly about what he would do. The man would simply make excuses or blame the woman saying, “It’s always me that’s the problem; never you! Maybe there’s something wrong with you.”
The same scene and the same fights continued month after month and then year into year. Eventually, the couple filed for divorce. When that happened, the man came to the woman and asked for another chance. The woman agreed. The man smiled at her. “I love you,” he said and quickly punched her in the face. “Whoops! I’m sorry! It won’t happen again.”
The lesson of the tale is this: “I’m sorry” means nothing if someone keeps doing the same thing to hurt you. “I love you” means nothing when the person keeps doing the same things to hurt you. They are liars. They don’t deserve you. Get out of the relationship. Get away from them. Don’t give them another chance.
“Heal the hurt….don’t hurt the healing.” -K.T. Klay
Sorry, All, but I’m tired of the hate. I don’t want to read any more negative posts. I’ve had enough of Hillary and Donald and Bernie and Elections and Government. I’m not going to “unfriend” anyone because I’m a grown-up and I realize that we are all entitled to our own views and opinions.
I get regular Facebook status updates from many of my friends. Some of them I’ll look at but others I pick and choose. There are some people who I don’t get updates for/from because I got tired of hate-filled posts. I want to get along with everyone, and I cannot tell you what to post or share, however…for some of you, almost all your posts and emails are filled with hate and fear and links to articles or memes that attack our former presidential candidates.
I grieve for what this country has gone through, is going through, and will go through….but grief must end….fear must end….hate must end.
I choose to love.
I choose to be inclusive.
I choose to focus on everything that is good.
I choose to focus on everything that is uplifting and positive.
I choose to focus on happy things.
I choose to focus on our similarities and strengths and being at peace with everyone.
I choose to be the change I want to see.
I am (as anyone who knows me knows) a man who works really hard to be a man of integrity and a man who keeps my word. Those of you who want to continue being negative and full of fear and hate, you may continue, but I will turn off your status updates. I do it for my own sanity and healing and to begin to bring the healing and change I want to see, and focus on the good. I encourage you all to do the same.
“Heal the hurt! Don’t hurt the healing.” Please tell me and others good things, show us people (not political officials) who are doing good things and bringing unity and healing.
My second wife told me that I sat bolt-upright in bed one night (yes, I was asleep) looked her in the eye and said in an exasperated and imploring tone, “CAN’T we be FRIENDS?!?!” Then I flopped over still asleep. BTW: She told me her reply had been “NO! We’re married.”
My friends, we are friends…let’s keep it that way.
I don’t mind being single. I don’t mind being alone. It’s safe and comfortable…most of the time. That being said….I have so many wonderful things going on right now. There are so many successes, triumphs and accomplishments. It is in these moments that I feel the most alone. For me, It’s not so bad to be alone with pain, illness, struggles, and heartaches. Though I do what I do for myself and (that will never change) and not for honor, glory, or accolades…it dampens the joy, the triumph, the significance of the victory when you are surrounded by people who are surrounded by people celebrating others individual accomplishments….and you are standing there….alone.
Maybe alone is just not having someone there who you know. That hurts, yes. What really hurts is finally seeing someone you do know and having them never say anything to you. Worse is to have them walk by, throw a halfhearted “nice job” at you without even really looking are you…and then pounce on someone near you with hoots and hollers and dancing and rejoicing.
I must remember that I do the things I do for myself. I must remember to not subject myself nor allow myself to be in places where my aloneness can be rubbed in my face. I must remember to allow nothing to diminish my successes or my joy.
It’s true when they that some of the happiest people are the most shattered and broken on the inside. Some of the best comedians have had the most harrowing of experiences in life. Helping people, making them smile and laugh brings me a little more completeness. That will never change. I am elated when I see people succeed and grow and fly. I will celebrate life. I will celebrate success. I will celebrate joy and triumphs. I will lift those who are around me. I will do it alone.
I have experienced envy much more than jealousy. Envy is something that I think everyone experiences from time to time, and it certainly can turn into jealousy if allowed. Typically, I have used envy to push me to do what it takes, personally, to achieve that which I may envy. I am also mature enough to know when something that I envy is simply out of my reach, unattainable, and I push on. Jealousy, however, has never really been an issue that I have struggled with, but the few times I have were times of deep personal reflection and growth.
Usually, jealousy causes animosity, division, unrealistic competition and negative feelings like anger, hatred, or distrust. Jealousy has destroyed many a relationship, and friendships. One person is jealous of the person they have romantic feelings for. The jealous person forbids or blocks their “lover” from speaking with or spending time with anyone else but them. Friends become jealous of another’s popularity, money, prestige, skills, connections, possessions or something else.
How can jealousy be used for personal growth? When you become aware of some of the feelings that I previously listed, or find yourself doing some of the things I listed, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” There may be a need to do some deep, personal, soul searching. Figure out why you are doing what you are doing or why you are feeling what you are feeling. Once you figure these questions out, you will be better equipped to grow and to adjust how you’re doing things so you can overcome the jealousy. The answers may not be what you want to see, but if you are realistic, they can really help you grow. When you have assessed why you feel the way you do, and figured out how much or how little control you have over the situation, it is time to adjust what you’re doing and feeling to match what you have discovered. Then you need to take the actions necessary to achieve what you want (if it is actually attainable) or let it go.
I have been asked how I came up with the formulas that I use. Did I make it all up? Was it “divine” impartation of the universe? The answer is really very simple…I have no idea. As far back as I can remember, I have used the formula that I have just told you about. My father died when I was quite young. I have a vague impression that my family may have had a few sessions with a therapist, but I don’t really know. I was six years old when he died, so, it is possible that I derived the methods and formula from those sessions…that may or may not have been. Nevertheless, in the following paragraphs, I’ll tell you how I used this method and formula to deal with situations of jealousy and envy in my life.
When I was a child, I had a friend whose name was Johnny. I was jealous of him for many reasons. I hate to say it, but many of those reasons were the basis of my “friendship” with him. Johnny was funny and popular. He had two parents who loved each other and got along, he lived in a great house where he had his own bedroom, he had the latest technology, and most of all he had every Star Wars toy that was on the market! In fact, the first time I saw Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it was at his home on his VCR. I was an extremely un-funny wall-flower. My parents never really got along, my dad was now dead, my mother was a nut-case, I had to share a very small bedroom with two brothers, and we were very poor even though my dad had almost become a millionaire before he was killed. I think you can understand my jealousy and envy. One day, I realized that I would never have all the toys that he did. I also realized that I had no control over my mother or her relationships or her mental status. I realized that I had no control over where I lived. This made me sad, but it helped. I decided that I could learn to be funny and popular. I also realized that I would not have to live at home forever, just until I was 18 and then I could move out; this gave me hope and purpose.
By the time I had reached high school, I was learning to become funnier, and became a popular guy. I was so well known and popular, that I decided to run for President of the Associated Student Government. I figured that no one could beat me but I had an unexpected bump coming. I hadn’t planned on Rob Mole, captain of the football team running. When he did, I (in my own hubris and self-importance) figured that there was no way he could beat me. I hadn’t planned on him sweeping in and getting all my “popular” friends to join his campaign before he even announced his candidacy. Needless to say, he took the vote by a landslide. I was angry and, yes, extremely jealous. I realized that he had won fair and square. I took notes on what to do and what not to do, and did my best to work with Rob and not against him. It wasn’t long before I realized that he was relying on me, and that he was learning from me. That was humbling for me.
Jealousy reared its ugly head, again, recently. Again, it was jealousy with fellow classmates, and not one classmate, but two of them! The first classmate is a real go-getter. He’s a guy who has things come quite easily to him. If things don’t come easily, he pushes and pushes until he gets it. The two of us, it seemed, were vying for the top spot in some of the classes we are in. For a while, I didn’t like this. I said to myself, “I can’t let him be better than me! I’ve got to beat him! I want to see him fail.” I realized that I was jealous of him. When I came to that realization, I realized that I saw him as a threat! Then I realized that he is my classmate and that he can be an ally in class and the future. There is no reason why only one person can be at the top of the class; there is no reason why every person in the class can’t have straight “A’s.” This was very freeing for me, and I see him as a friend, again, and not a competitor. Another classmate keeps getting roles in plays that I want, and he had a role in a recent play where he had the attention of all the ladies. He can dance and is suave and popular. We are alike in many ways, but there are a few things that he can do that I want to and can’t currently do. Those ways we are different and the fact he’s gotten the roles I wanted (particularly the one where he was the focus of the ladies) made me jealous. I realized that I was jealous; I knew why. I had a hard time overcoming my jealousy of him. It suddenly occurred to me that it is our differences that allow us to succeed. He will go on to play the suave, swashbuckling leading man. He’ll be another Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or Ryan Reynolds. I will never be those. On the other hand, I will go on to become another Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, or Bill Murray, and he will won’t. Robin Williams will never be Brad Pitt, and vice versa. Both have their unique roles just as my friends and I have ours. None of the roles are better than the other. Each are unique and yet each are equal. These realizations brought my jealousy to an end.
Our emotions guide us and can ultimately lead us down a path of destruction or to a place of growth and unity with everything around us. Negative emotions such as anger, hatred, jealousy and envy can destroy if left unchecked. We can be aware of our feelings, and why we are feeling what we are feeling and we can use them to grow. It is only through evaluation, introspection, and analysis of ourselves, our emotions, our motives, our fears and desires that we can use our emotions to bring unity and wholeness to ourselves and our surroundings.
I feel that Bernie Madoff would make a better President of the United States than Donald Trump. Both of these gentlemen (I use that term loosely) have made a living off the backs of the “working-class” people, flinging themselves boldly into business endeavors, keeping themselves in the public eye, and showing blatant disregard for everyone but themselves, Bernie Madoff rises to the top for a variety of reasons. Now I know what you are thinking, “Trump is running against Bernie Sanders, not Bernie Madoff, fool!” You, of course, are correct in that. I am not comparing Sanders and Trump; I am comparing Trump and Madoff. Bernie Sanders is a much better choice for President than Trump or Madoff, in my view, but that is not the point of my paper. Both Trump and Madoff have similar backgrounds and origins. Both were born in Queens, New York . Both started companies, The Trump Organization (1971) and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (1960) with little or no money down. Both made fortunes off the backs of “working-class” people. When I say “working-class,” I include everyone making less than $200,000 per year, and all retirees. What makes them different?
The first thing that makes these two different is how they started their companies, and continued to “earn” their money. Bernie Madoff started Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960 with $5000 that he earned from working as a lifeguard and a sprinkler installer . He put his company on the stock market as a penny stock and borrowed $50,000 from his father-in-law. Trump was handed control of his father’s company, and used tax breaks and loop-holes to build his empire. Trump also borrowed money and invested it. Unlike Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, The Trump Organization, almost went under during bankruptcy proceedings in 1991.
The Second thing that is different is how they work with others and own up to their mistakes. Trump blames others for problems. Trump is the victim. Trump has assets tied up so they can’t be taken. Madoff accepted responsibility for his mistakes, and admitted them. He allowed his possessions and assets to be sold so people could be repaid.
The third thing that makes them different is how they live (or lived lived) their lives every day. Trump, who is worth between $3 billion and $10 billion, lives in opulent luxury. Madoff, worth an estimated $17 billion at the time of arrest) lived in an upscale and expensive area of town, but at the lower end and understated area with minimal possessions. Madoff tried to stay out of the public view while Trump stays in the public eye. Trump has had his own reality show, in addition to his current bid for President.
In closing, I feel that Bernie Madoff, despite his being jail would make a better president than Donald Trump, because he made more money in his public life than Trump has. Madoff made his initial money by working for it, while Trump has been handed it and or stolen and used loop-holes in the law to gain wealth. Bernie Madoff lived lived a low-key lifestyle against Trumps opulent “in-your-face” one. Finally, when “caught” in wrong doing, Madoff admitted his faults, while Trump has passed the blame to others. For these reasons, I feel Madoff would be a better president than Trump.